Hike or cycle? With rain in the forecast last weekend, the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen joined friends for a trip down Memory Lane and did one of our favourite (and one of the top Okanagan) urban hikes.
Last Saturday, we checked out the south end of the Glenmore Highlands in Kelowna. It is the ridge located between Clifton Road and Glenmore Road. The middle section is the Wilden residential neighbourhood and the north end has Stephens Coyote Ridge Regional Park.
As soon as we headed uphill from Clifton Road, the Sheriff had an eerie feeling of deja vu and sure enough, the trails began to look familiar.
The Sheriff started exploring the entire length of the ridge on horseback before Wilden began constructing the first home, before the Stephens family donated land for the park and when the Baker family used to own the farm around what is now called Hidden Lake in Wilden.
The Sheriff found himself checking trees along the way to see if his orange flagging tape was still around the trunk or branches or even lying on the ground. Nope.
When he first started marking trails, dirtbike riders would rip the flagging tape down. So the Sheriff got Tennessee walking horse Miss Amber to stand next to the tree, he would stand in the saddle and tie the flagging tape higher than the dirtbikers could reach.
She had the greatest patience of any Walker the Sheriff has ever owned even though she seemed to like female humans better than male. Perhaps that illustrated her patience better than the stand-in-the-saddle example.
Once when riding around the end of Hidden Lake, we discovered a small doe in a stupor. There were no visible injuries so the Sheriff carefully laid the deer across the saddle, walked beside Miss A holding the reins and she hauled the deer back to the farm without any issues.
The doe was turned over to a conservation officer who speculated she drank algae-contaminated water from the lake. She recovered and was returned to the forest.
On Sunday, we climbed the Boucherie Rush Trail to the top of Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, the remnants of a stratovolcano from nearly 60 million years ago. Wikipedia says between four and six different glacial periods over the past 50 million years eroded the volcano from its original elevation of 2,000 metres and it now only rises 417 metres above the level of Okanagan Lake.
Mount Boucherie Regional Park, which covers 36.4 hectares, is accessible from the north through Eain Lamont Community Park on Lakeview Cove Place. Wikipedia doesn’t yet know about the Boucherie Rush Trail constructed by the West Kelowna in 2015.
Getting there can be a little confusing since the trailhead is located on East Boundary Road but you take Bartley Road east from Highway 97 (while staying on the same road).
Boucherie Rush Rail is six kilometres round trip (without exploring the northern end of the mountain), takes one to three hours and has an elevation gain of 275 metres. The difficulty level is rated moderate to difficult. A small parking lot is located 1.5 kilometres from Highway 97 but many park along the side of East Boundary Road.
If you don’t like switchbacks, you are not going to like more than 30 on the climb, but it makes the ascent much easier for casual strollers and bicycles.
Runners were training there on Sunday but there were also lots of hikers and dogwalkers. The reward is 360-degree views at the summit where you can loop around an outlook or hike further north along a rolling trail.
The Sheriff is always amazed at the number of black trees which are a testament to how long wildfire damage can last.
In the early evening of May 7, 1992, a forest fire was accidentally started by two 11-year-old boys playing with matches behind Mount Boucherie Secondary School. About 100 people were evacuated while the blaze semi-circled the peak consuming 60 hectares of forest on the steep north and east slopes. No houses were destroyed, but the fire cost $170,000 to extinguish.
If you want a real workout, the East Boundary Road parking lot is also the trailhead for the Andesite Gringer which goes straight up a forested draw: up, up, and heart-pounding up. Not for the faint of heart. And poison ivy has been reported encroaching on the trail.
The hills are alive with the shuh-shuh of cross-country skiers now that Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre and Silver Star Mountain Resort in the North Okanagan are open seven days a week. Nickel Plate Nordic Centre in the South Okanagan will have a soft opening today.
On Thursday, sovereignlake.com reported a snow base of 25 centimetres in the stadium with total snowfall at 87 centimetres. Three kilometres of green trails were open and 11 kilometres of black trails.
Silver Star has both upper and lower mountain trails open but warns of early-season Nordic conditions and that trail conditions will vary. The lifts are not yet turning so those who want to access the upper trails will have a 1,000-metre climb recommended for only intermediate and advanced skiers. Downhill is tentatively scheduled to start on Thursday, which will, of course, involve the chairlifts.
Thursday’s daily snow report said the early morning temperature was –9 C, 31 centimetres of new snow fell during the previous seven days, and there was a snow base of 55 centimetres in the village, 83 centimetres at the summit.
Upcoming events at Silver Star:
– Today (Nov. 23): Teton Gravity Research Film Showcase —Winterland;
– Friday: Silver Star Annual Light-Up;
– Dec. 8: Peak Pride;
– Dec. 7: Teton Gravity Research Film Showcase — Roadless;
– Dec. 14: Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Nickel Plate GM Tricia Wilson decided Wednesday “that we will have a soft opening this weekend meaning a staff member will be on-site, all buildings will be open and fires will be going.”
However, rentals will not be available. Everyone can ski by donation and should bring rock skis, she said.
“The rain we got last Sunday really did a number on us. We did get 10 centimetres (Tuesday) but it’s not quite good enough.”
For the official opening next weekend, Nickel Plate will have Wild Pies for sale, Wilson added. “Anyone who attended our Welcome Day (and a few other occurrences) knows how delicious these pocket pies are.”
J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter.